After a work-related conference call on the side of the road in Missoula, I drove the 3 hours to Bozeman. Devin was home from his hike and we went for another “hike” along the trails and hills near his mom’s (Ginny's) house. On the way home we stopped at the new Bozeman Public Library, where Ginny works, but she had already headed home.
When we returned, Ginny was starting some dinner and together we sipped a delicious Argentinian white sparkling wine called “New Age,” which is apparently very popular in Argentina. Ginny made a fantastic dinner of butternut squash soup and stir fry with veggies from her garden. We sat in the backyard listening to the adjacent babbling brook and admired the view of the “M” on the side of the mountains (there’s a similar one in Missoula). After dinner, Devin and I walked to downtown Bozeman where the weekly "Music On Main" was just wrapping up, and the streets were filled with a rainbow of teenagers, college kids, and the old ones like us. Devin was almost run down by a fleet of 4 police cars when we weren't paying attention. In accordance with our elderly status, we went to the coffee shop and I ordered chamomile tea while Devin ordered a peppermint steamer. Back at the house, we were greeted with ice cream, berries, and delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
“beep beep beep beep” Sara’s watch alarm beeped quietly inside her sleeping bag. I was already awake, as often happens during 5:45am wake-ups. My phone alarm rang minutes later to a much louder tune. We packed up camp, loaded our damp kayaking gear into the trunk, and departed for the 7:15am ferry on the other side of Orcas Island. This time my car was loaded next to a massive lumber truck on the left and sewage truck on the right (previously it was a flammable liquids truck). Apparently when you have kayaks on the roof you are lumped with the big ones.
When we arrive in Anacortes at 8:15 we'll drive down to Seattle and return Sara’s kayak Renaldo. They've become close over the last 5 days and it will be a tearful goodbye. In Anacortes I'll be careful not to speed, as Bridget was awarded a $200 speeding ticket after disembarking the ferry a couple days ago. We'll be mailing Bridget’s sleeping bag, sun hat, and some other goodies back to Oregon after we return Renaldo. After I drop Sara off at the airport, I’m headed east towards Spokane.
Don’t know where I'm sleeping yet tonight! I’m going to try to get as far east as possible today. Rya, a friend that I met in Santa Cruz back in my hostel-staying days, lives in Colville now, 1.5 hrs north of Spokane. She offered her couch to me, but I'm struggling with adding 3 more hours of solo driving. I may just camp in a field tonight! I just got word that Devin will be in Bozeman when I'm there tomorrow night, so that’s a nice surprise! Our last meetup was during my previous cross-country road trip with Marika a few years ago, before I moved to California and Devin and Anna moved to Vermont.
Okay, the ferry is arriving in Anacortes shortly so time to close up and head down to the car!
Next morning update: Yesterday went more or less as planned. After I dropped Sara off at the airport I drove east to Spokane, where Rya and I planned to meet for dinner. I was early, so I blogged at the Rocket Bakery, which had speedy internet and delicious lemondade:
Rya's truck broke down (likely overheating - it was 102 degrees!) north of Spokane, so I drove up to meet her at Twigs. It was fun catching up - she's engaged and in the middle of building a cabin by a lake in Colville. I couldn't stay long as I was headed to Missoula (3 hours away) for the evening. I ended up solo camping at a National Forest campground an hour outside Missoula. Some views from the drive...
I slept in a couple hours longer than Sara to try and rid myself of a standard migraine (which usually lasts through 2 or 3pm the next day). Around 10:30 we headed into town (Eastsound) for some coffee ands discovered pistachio fig chocolates and mint ice cream. Mmmm breakfast! At a little park on the north end of East Sound, Sara made some phone calls to work and Southwest baggage. Southwest informed her that her second bag, which contained all of her camping/hiking/running gear, was considered permanently lost. Southwest agreed to reimburse her for the cost of the items, with depreciation, but it’s not clear exactly what that means. It’s a sad day :(
Monday morning we “slept in” and made a dinner-breakfast of spaghetti with tomato sauce, supplemented with mushrooms and chard – yum! Sara and I packed up our tents and left camp earlier than the rest of the crew. Everyone else was headed back to Anacortes later that morning, but we were headed to Orcas Island to continue the second half of our San Juan Islands trip. Even after multiple calls to the Southwest Airlines baggage counter (at 3 different airports), there was no indication that Sara’s two checked bags would be delivered, so we headed into Friday Harbor to replace some of the lost items. A 45-minute shopping spree later, Sara was the proud owner of some new chacos, underoos, paddling gloves, and other items. We made the usual stops for water, ice, and coffee before boarding the inter-island ferry.
Another (attempted) early start! At 6:50am (only 20 minutes late) we departed the campsite, made a quick-ish coffee stop in Friday Harbor, and continued to our second San Juan Island kayaking destination: Haro Strait. This strait runs along the west side of San Juan Island and is known as the best location for orca whale sightings. The main public put-in site is at Smallpox Bay in San Juan County Park, which is apparently where a number of Indians plunged into the icy cold water to rid themselves of smallpox and instead died of pneumonia.
5am: it’s time to wake up for the earliest ferry! In classic Nena-style we (Nena/Sara/Bridget/Ale/Alex/Maria) took the first ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor at 6:25am. We were directed to Lane #4 where we parked, ate yogurt and cereal, and watched a gorgeous sunrise. We wandered into the waiting area and found a Seattle’s Best coffee machine, which delivered wonders for $1.50. “Now boarding the 6:25 ferry to Friday Harbor.” Oh crap, we return to the car just in time to board the ferry, parked behind another pair of kayakers and next to a massive flammable liquids truck. The ferry to Friday Harbor lasted ~1 hour.
The park was strategically located 20 minutes from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal where we were scheduled to depart at 6:25am the next day. We drove over Deception Pass at sunset and took in the gorgeous bridges and views for a few minutes before continuing to our expensive/tiny campsite.
We fashioned a bed for Sara out of miscellaneous items in the car and attempted to sleep for a couple hours before Bridget and her crew arrived at midnight with the sleeping bag. All in all, a preparation day for our exciting kayaking trips ahead!
After a quick cafe breakfast with Juliette and Simeon in Portland, I drove up to my company's Seattle office. The Seattle office is wonderful. There are free drinks in the glass door fridge (almost like it's Facebook! ...) and there's a view of Puget Sound from the windows. Everyone is very friendly :). I did a couple hours of work and I have to admit: I might already miss my job. Luckily I can still keep working! There is no shortage of that.
The Seattle office Birthday Barge celebration (in which the month's birthdays are celebrated with beers/snacks on a floating dock in Salmon Bay next to the office) was relocated to the conference room due to impending rain. I thought these PNW people were unphased by rain! I was ready to tough it out with my rain pants and yellow umbrella. Instead, we celebrated in the common area, and Danielle and Allisa took me down to the water for a quick barge visit and Canada goose viewing:
After the birthday celebration was over and people started trickling out, Danielle and I drove to Capital Hill (her neighborhood) for dinner at Smith (yes, that's the name of the restaurant). Delicious cider and salmon! Now I'm perched in the top floor of my tiny AirBnB rental, ready for my first solid night of sleep in my own bed in over a week. Sara's flight from Richmond was delayed/cancelled twice, so she will no longer be arriving in Seattle tonight. This means that I am residing in our AirBnB house solo. The good news is, Sara has notoriously bad luck with flights, so we had preemptively scheduled an extra day in Seattle. It looks like I'll be doing the camping errands alone tomorrow, which means we'll probably be eating rice and beans all weekend.
Short post for Day 5... Wednesday morning began slowly. Mike, Juliette, and Simeon left for their respective jobs and daycares, and I found a coffee shop with delicious lattes. I met up with Juliette for lunch around noon (attempting to act like a local by taking bus), and we had a tasty frittata and soup at F&B cafe. It was a quick lunch because Juliette had to get back to work. I waited under an awning (it was raining!) until Dan picked me up to go on an afternoon hike. We drove out to the Columbia River Gorge and visited a couple waterfalls: a 2-mile hike to see Latourell Falls and a shorter hike to see Bridal Veil Falls.
On the way back to Portland, we stopped to photograph a beautiful view of the Gorge, below. The gas tank hovered around empty, but we made it to a gas station in Troutdale just in time. The station attendants pump the gas here, which never fails to surprise me.
In the evening Mike, Ju, Simeon, and I went to the Oregon Brew Fest (it was opening night) in downtown Portland. Simeon danced to the music, we went for a stroll along the Willamette River, and I met one of Mike's friends from his previous job.
Bridget and I started the day with some english muffin/eggs/avocado/tomato sandwiches before heading out for an epic kayaking trip. We rented a stubby Otter recreational boat from Peak Sports in downtown Corvallis. The put-in was allegedly a block away, so Bridget carried the boat while I drove to meet her. 5 blocks later, I found her staggering along, half dragging the boat through the grass. I parked to help her carry it the next 4 blocks. We launched onto the Willamette River and soon realized that paddling upstream would not be the relaxing morning paddle we had envisioned.
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
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Click the "Read More" link at the bottom of each summary for more photos, to see an interactive map of the route, and to read about the adventure.
Maps in each blog post: Click the icons to learn more about the launch site (amenities) and destinations. Click the square in the bottom-left corner to see an aerial photo behind the route.